Jun 29, 2012

Intrapreneurship - the concept, the conference, not the misspell

With all the economical crisis and the opportunities brought by technology development, entrepreneurship is very much encouraged. If entrepreneurs are born or taught...it is still a debate. But even with all the push from government, universities, media and so on there is still a small percentage of people that turn out to be entrepreneurs sooner or later - and it is normal: we do not only need entrepreneurs and leaders, we also need teams to work with them.

To make things work we need a whole system with many pieces integrated to drive growth.

Hence, there is one more ingredient that needs to be added to entrepreneurship - and that is intrapreneurship. New, not so popular and often considered a misspell, intrapreneurship is for all those people that are not entrepreneurs, but still have a huge power to drive innovation and growth in the companies they work in. Intrapreneurs are employees with entrepreneurial mindsets. Are those who see opportunities for the companies they work in and make them happen, with the resources of those companies. Are those who go the extra mile, beyond their job description.

I think most media is a bit misleading with all the shiny aura they put around entrepreneurs, making it seem like you are either one of those glorious people or nobody, just a slave of the system. But it is not like that and it should not be like that.

Intrapreneurship - the what, the why and the how will be debated at International Conference on Intrapreneurship by corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, recruiters, consultants, business coaches, professors, public affairs representatives and youth as future generation of employees. The conference will take place in Mamaia, Romania from 19th to 22nd July, gathering people from all over Europe. It is organized by JADE Romania and JADE (European Confederation of Junior Enterprises), and I am its proud Project Manager, driven by the desire to foster entrepreneurship among students - meaning entrepreneurship mindset, that they as future employees can have as well, that is not all about starting new companies.

Registrations are open until 8th July, so go ahead and secure your place if you are an entrepreneur that wants to know how to gather a great team or you want to know what career opportunities you have as employee.

Jun 28, 2012

Bucharest rising - new support for startups

Romania -  best known among entrepreneurs as a great pool of IT talent and with a few internationally known success stories lately (UbervuSkinScan, Brainient, Summify, Clearly etc.) - offers now more support for local startups and for foreign startups that want to tap into this talent pool of skilled and ambitious people:

1.  The recent launch of Digital Catalyst Fund in Bucharest

Digital Catalyst Fund targets US and European startups and offers them, besides financial support and mentorship like most incubators, connection to Romanian developers (possibilities to find CTOs or form tech teams). Applications are open until 15th July 2012 for the first round of startups to be incubated. The 10 selected startups will receive a total of 500 K $ financing and will start at the end of August a 3 months boot camp to work on prototypes in a house of 10 bedrooms, fully equiped for all technology needs and even with a 24/7 chef. The board gathers big names, among which are the entrepreneur Emi Gal and the well-known gymnast Nadia Comaneci.

2. The recent launch of Geekcelerator in Bucharest (spin off of Bucharest Hubb that will close down)

Geekcelerator targets tech startups and offers them mentorship while working on the product, and when they are ready to take next stepts, it connects them to London or Silicon Valley to get market traction. More details will be announced soon by Vlad Stan and his team.

3. A new edition of How to Web conference in Bucharest

Bogdan Iordache and his team are preparing for the 4th edition of How to Web that will take place in Bucharest on 7th-8th November 2012.The event gathers international participants and speakers, with the main aim to help the South-Eastern European startups develop and innovate. It is a great networking and learning environment as previous editions prove. I am Official Blogger for the conference so more blog posts on it will follow.

4. The preparations to launch The Next Hub in Bucharest (by How to Web organizers)

The organizing team of How to Web is working hard these days to launch a hub for the tech community in Bucharest. The future co-working space and hub is being built based on constant feedback from those interested in it. All help for them in order to launch The Next Hub is welcome.

Jun 10, 2012

Can Europe compete on startup scenes?

Last month at Next Conference in Berlin, I have met  Daniel Fogel, founder of BeeFM - one of the finalist pitching startups - and I had a very interesting discussion with him about Israeli startup scene and how an entrepreneur activating there is seeing the development of Berlin as a startup scene.

He was telling me that Israel is considered to be a "Startup Nation" with an entrepreneurial tradition of more than 20 years encouraged by the Government and by the existence of many great engineering graduates. Therefore, many Israeli startups rise and shine ("At the start of 2009, 63 Israeli companies were listed on Nasdaq, more than those of any other country", according to Wal-Street Journal), especially in the high-tech industry. Many of the local entrepreneurs turned Business Angels and now they help younger people to succeed. VCs also found a great investment potential in the region ("Venture capital investment per capita in Israel is 2.5 times more that in U.S.and 6 times more than in the U.K.", according to Wall-Street Journal). And big high-tech companies run successful R&D departments there.

Daniel, originally from Serbia, found Israel to be a great developed area for an entrepreneurial spirit like him. Besides the advantages mentioned above, he also added the spread of English language, especially since startups there are built to go global, and the low costs of living compared to Western Europe.

Looking now at how Berlin is developing it's startup scene, on the trial to become the number one place in Europe, Daniel feels it is "like Israel 10 years ago", and he adds that Berliner entrepreneurs should, most of all, get the right mindset about entrepreneurship - they should prepare for "an amazing journey with lots of sacrifices, but that might lead to success".

Will we see European startup scenes (most recent bets being on Berlin) taking over Israel, Silicon Valley and others? And if yes, what do they need? Perhaps a peek outside Europe will help, and Israel is a great example.

Jun 7, 2012

Interview with Chris Kowalczyk, organizer of Bitspiration and HardGamma Ventures Partner

Bitspiration – the conference on new technologies, business and startups, with a special focus on Central and Eastern Europe, will take place on June 12th-13th in Krakow, Poland. The event is organized by Chris Kowalczyk, HardGammaVentures Partner,  in order to boost Krakow as an entrepreneurial hub for Central and Eastern Europe. I had the pleasure to interview him and find out what is the current entrepreneurial status in Poland, what are the trends and how is Bitspiration helping the local (Poland, and entire CEE) startup environment. Read below the entire discussion.

Adelina: How is the entrepreneurship scene in Poland evolving lately (local startups, business angels, VCs)?

Chris: Although the market for VC / startups in Poland is still at its early stage of development, we do have funds, which have global companies in their portfolios. In comparison to more developed markets, the majority of Polish investments are made on seed funds-scale and oscillates around more than dozen up to tens thousands Euro. It’s rarely an amount of few millions of Euro. Even so, funds such as HardGamma advise their companies to go global from day one, not stay only on a local market. To keep that in mind is very important.

Adelina: What are the advantages of the area? How open it is to internationalism?

Chris: One of the biggest advantages of Poland in terms of new technologies development is a very high level of education for mathematicians, computer scientists and designers. Our coders are always in the first, second or third place of worldwide championships in group coding. We have technology parks, we organize startup weekends all around the country and numerous incubators where people can share ideas, learn from mentors and develop their products. So Poland already is a great space to gain knowledge and meet people that can help you create new projects. Are we internationally oriented? Yes. You can meet Internet entrepreneurs from Poland at SXSW, LeWeb or NEXT, cities like Krakow where Bitsiration will take place are very international, with offices of big companies like Google, Motorola or IBM. Come to Poland, you’ll see yourself!

Adelina: And how does it influence the European and global scene?

Chris: The first influence of Polish coders that we can notice easily is that our engineers have a great brand all over the world because they are initiative and talented but at the same time they work for less than American coders. For a company that is looking for someone who will come up with a solution, Polish programmer is a great candidate which is why a lot of big players from all around the world are headhunting in our country, setting up its offices here etc. I also think that Poland is mature enough to come up with a project that would be a global success compared to Skype or Soundcloud. .

Adelina: What does it need for further development? 

Chris: I think we still need to educate young entrepreneurs on how to be able to sell their ideas to the world and pitch them to investors and mentors. I work for international incubators like Springboard and very often see Polish and American people pitching their ideas. Usually Polish people have better projects and interesting technical solutions behind them, but these are the Americans who will get the funding, not them. Just because they know how to make a good presentation, they understand the value of networking and they have good business skills. For us this is still a challenge but I  believe we’re getting there.

Adelina: How is Bitspiration planning to help the development of the Polish startup scene (and perhaps Eastern Europe)? What is its competitive advantage?

Chris: If you go to LeWeb in Paris or SXSW in US, you have thousands of people running around and listening to speeches of invited guests. It’s usually very difficult to have an actual conversation
with the speaker – after his appearance he disappears in VIP lounge. We limited the number of tickets to 150 and instead of a big venue, part of the conference will take place in coffee shops in one of Krakow’s most picturesque neighborhoods. That atmosphere gives every participant a unique chance to meet in person a co-founder of Youtube or an investor from Silicon Valley, talk to him and have a real benefit from the conference. Second big difference is the price. For a conference on similar level in Paris, Berlin or Texas you have to pay around 1000 euro. Ticket for Bitspiration is only 500 euro which gives our friends from countries like Lithuania, Ukraine or Estonia a chance to also come and participate. The third difference is that Bitspiration has this Eastern European accent which is very attractive now for investors from USA or Western Europe. We combine experts from CEE with leaders of the industry form USA, London, France or Germany, which makes a unique mix.

(Tickets still available: http://bitspiration.com/registration-info)